Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 4-25

Posted by Chris Brown on April 25, 2014 – 4:22 pm

The draft is less than two weeks away. Feels like we’ve been waiting forever. For now here are some of your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,
Can you give some new insight  on how defensive ends will work under Schwartz? Besides Mario it seems like Bills have other options. Hughes was better as an OLB and I don’t see him as every down because of his size. Lawson also has never played DE as well. Do you see this as a major draft need? I feel worried that the sacks/pass rush will fall off because of the scheme change.

CB: While you are right that Lawson has very limited experience as a full time defensive end having played mostly in 3-4 defensive schemes in his career, he is an expert leverage player. So although long and wiry I believe Lawson can make that transition, most likely on the right side. He’s been up on the line enough in his career to know how to handle such a role. Of course the proof is in the pudding.

As for Hughes it’s certainly possible he’s reduced to a pass rushing role, but I think that’s something that will play out in the spring camps and training camp.

I do agree that it is somewhat of a hidden need for Buffalo that isn’t talked about much. They do need to find another fit for Schwartz’s scheme knowing things are changing.

 

2 – Hey Chris,

Last year attending Bills training camp at St. John Fisher, it appeared to me that EJ Manuel had an extremely good long ball. His release was quick, the throws were accurate, and the offense was often successful completing those long throws. However during the season I did not often see EJ attempt long throws. I wonder did you see the same thing I did at camp? If so, have you any thoughts about why they didn’t make all that many long passing attempts during the season?  Do you think we might see more of a long passing game this year?

Thanks,

Bernie


CB:
Last year the aim was to keep the offense on the field so deep throws, while potentially rewarding don’t provide a high success rate. With a young QB running things, the plan was to string together high percentage plays and not create too much risk. That’s why Buffalo ran the ball so much last season (most rushes in the NFL in 2013).

Provided EJ demonstrates more efficient decision making, particularly when under duress, through the offseason and preseason I do anticipate more long passes per game. Realistically though unless there is a flaw in an opponent’s secondary there are usually not much more than half a dozen of those kinds of plays attempted by one team in a game.

 

3 - Hi Chris.

Thanks for keeping everybody posted during free agency.  It’s certainly appreciated.

With the new CBA, is it legal for teams to have something like a “behavior clause” in a players contract?  For example “you lose  X number of dollars if you get more then 3 personal fouls this season” or you lose X number of dollars if you get in a fight with the media” etc.  I know Marrone is all about accountability and I think this would be a great way to increase accountability by hitting them where it hurts the most.  If that isn’t legal, could it be part of an incentive clause?  “No personal fouls equals a bonus at the end of the year, etc…

 

Thanks for your time.  Can’t wait for football season.

Harold

CB: To my knowledge morals clauses are permitted, but that doesn’t mean a player’s agent is going to openly accept it. In a good number of cases, the penalties handed down by the league for violation of personal conduct and substance abuse policies are pushed as sufficient deterrents by agents to avoid such morals clauses. However, if the money is significant a player is typically more accepting of the morals clauses that can sometimes come with it.

 

 

4 – Dear Chris,

Can you help me understand what the Bills are doing at both guard positions?  They just seem not to value that position very much on offense.  Kraig Urbik is an average player at best, and they seem to have a bit of a revolving door going on the left side.  Neither Colin Brown or Doug Legursky played very well last year.

Now they have signed Chris Williams, a move that attracted a lot of criticism from various sources, saying that he was the weakest link in a poor Rams line last season.  Why would the Bills want to bring such a player into Buffalo?

I would have thought they would like to better protect the huge investment they have made in EJ  Maunuel.  Can you provide me with some insight about what the Bills brain trust is thinking here?

Thanks and Regards,
Cameron Morrison
CB: I think we sometimes fall victim to media assessments of players and treat it as gospel. In the case of Chris Williams I think he’s a decided upgrade at left guard. As I’ve mentioned on my blog I watched three of his games last year against the #1, #5 and #6 ranked defenses last season, all of which he had to face twice since they were his division opponents in the NFC West in Seattle, San Francisco and Arizona.

Williams was steady and reliable in all three games, all the first meetings against each of those teams. He didn’t have any busts and performed well in both run and pass. Was he super spectacular and making eye popping plays? No, but he was effective and truthfully that’s all you need at left guard.

Knowing he’ll be playing in between two of Buffalo’s best starters in Cordy Glenn and Eric Wood should stand to raise his game another peg. Much like Williams I think Urbik is a steady player at right guard.
4 – Hey Chris,
What are your thoughts on the Bills saying that they’re good with their current qb situation as well as having their free safety in the roster already?! It’s mind boggling to me considering the mess they got into when EJ got injured. They didn’t have the confidence in Searcy/Williams/Meeks when Byrd had his injury to start the season, but now they do? Is it just pre-draft strategy or do you think they honestly believe it?

Thanks, Ryan

CB: I do think they believe it. Doug Whaley and his personnel department as well as the coaching staff has an enormous amount of confidence in EJ Manuel. They are also very high on Thad Lewis as a backup prospect. Now with Lewis’ former quarterbacks coach in Detroit now here in Todd Downing, they’re even more confident that Lewis and Manuel for that matter can both take the next step in their respective development.

As for safety I think they do genuinely believe in the talent they have on the roster. Aaron Williams is likely to be the free safety with the strong safety spot filled by one of the candidates trying to land the job. I really was impressed with what I saw from Duke Williams last year in the practice setting. I didn’t see enough of Meeks who was hurt and Da’Norris Searcy had his best season last year as a hybrid subpackage linebacker.

You have to remember the Bills drafted in advance of losing Byrd in last year’s draft when they took Williams and Meeks back to back in rounds four and five. They prepped for that loss. Now the defense is changing so they’ll essentially be rookies again. Knowing that the Bills picked up veteran Corey Graham, who granted has been a cornerback most of his career, but will be in the mix at safety as well.

I think they’ve done a good job of covering their bases there.

 

5 – Chris,

I don’t see the Bills drafting a right tackle in the draft because historical they don’t draft lineman that high. The Bills have depth at WR and TE but need that one big play-maker. Even with Chandler back and lots of speed wideouts, what director do you think they might go in rounds 1-2. Mike Evans and Eric Ebron will probably be on the board with Watkins gone. Which player do you think the Bills will covet more? What are the chances they pick either of them at 9?

CB: It’s hard to know for sure what the Bills think since they lock up their draft board like every other team. I will say that both players are dynamic difference makers for a passing game and both would be a huge help to EJ Manuel.

As we’ve drawn closer to the draft I think it’s becoming less likely that Mike Evans is still on the board at nine. He’s most likely to go to Tampa at pick 7 as they are in dire need of receiver help. Ebron is more likely to be on the board at nine.

I believe if the top tackles are off the board and Evans is gone as well, Ebron might be the best option left.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-20

Posted by Chris Brown on December 20, 2013 – 12:00 pm

Sunday will be step one in trying to post a winning record in the division for the first time since the 2007 season. Let’s see if the Bills can make it a season sweep of the Dolphins. Here’s your latest edition of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Hi Chris,

As a Bills’ fan for decades, I believe coach Marrone is a good coach. The question is whether he can turn around the losing culture. I have a few questions regarding accountability and talents.

What are the Bills going to do with the undependable players? This includes, but not limited to, Steve Johnson, Leodis McKelvin and T. J. Graham.

What is Jairus Byrd’s long term prospect with the Bills? The Bills like to get rid of established players to save a few bucks. In the end, this contributes to a longer wish list for the ever rebuilding process. A
recent example is the Offensive line. My suggestion is to get rid of Steve Johnson and save some money for Byrd’s contract. (Note, The Bills is in the business to make money. I suppose a better product would lead to increased revenue. In this case, a true contender in NFL).

What is the long term plan for the QB position? I mean both first string and backup in this case? While coach Marrone indicated EJ Manuel is the long term solution. I beg the difference. EJ is not playing any
better than JP Losman by comparing their rookie year. Lewis and Tuel are littering their path with interceptions and fumbles. How long do you think these two can keep their job in NFL?

Marcus Easley seems to be doing a very good job in special teams. What is the possibility of moving him to CB if the Bills cannot use him as WR? This may afford the team to get rid of Leodis McKelvin thereby saving more money.

The New England Patriots seem to be able to overcome huge deficit consistently. When playing with the Patriots (as well as other teams), what are the Bills doing to safeguard our calls/signals from being stolen?

Please keep up with the good work.
Regards,
C. J. Wong, Ph.D.

CB: I understand why you feel like the players you mentioned are not dependable. This is where the coaches and front office make their offseason evaluations, but being dependable goes beyond just game day. It’s about being a professional every day of the week in everything that you do. So if the players you mentioned struggle in those areas then they could be at risk with respect to their futures here.

Doug Marrone is only going to keep players on this roster that he feels he can win with the way he wants to win. He has stressed accountability time and again and has been clear in explaining to his players what accountability means. They’ve had all season to prove they’re on board. If they’re not, and only the coaches and their teammates would know for certain if that’s the case, then they won’t be here long term.

As for Jairus Byrd, the safety has said he’s open-minded to staying here long term, which is an improvement in terms of where that situation was this past summer. I think Byrd is smart enough to know that he can really flourish in this defense with the talent he has around him on that side of the ball. Talent that is tied up long term for the most part. Byrd has to be convinced that he can win here and as is usually the case the money has to be right as well.

At the quarterback position EJ is their long term answer at the position. You may not be convinced, but the people that make those decisions are. I believe this offseason will be dedicated to putting more talent around Manuel to help him succeed. We’ve certainly seen flashes of ability. What has me most encouraged is the way in which Manuel performs when the game is on the line. Buffalo has needed a clutch quarterback for the longest time and Manuel has shown he has that ability. With improved talent around him he’ll also be better for the other portions of the game too.

I believe the decision makers still see Jeff Tuel as a developmental type prospect. Thad Lewis is still being evaluated, which is why Sunday’s game is huge for him. He’s proven he’s tough and that he can deliver big plays. Now he has to prove he can learn from his mistakes and improve from some of his shortcomings in the first meeting with Miami. It’s really the perfect litmus test for him.

I completely disagree with your Marcus Easley idea. Easley doesn’t not have the foot quickness to play CB, and Leodis McKelvin is having his most consistent season in a Bills uniform at cornerback. Not to mention he’s playing at very affordable money for his position.

Finally, the reason the Patriots are able to overcome big deficits is primarily one reason and one reason only, they have one of the best quarterbacks in a generation in Tom Brady. End of story.

 

2 – Hi Chris, I live in Western Canada so it is always hard to get coverage on the Bills out here.  So I really appreciate all your updates.

My question is about Stevie Johnson.  It seems every year there is a play that he fails to make that costs us a game.  The game against Pittsburgh in OT where he dropped the wide open pass, the game against the Jets when he again dropped a game winning TD, and of course against the Falcons which just didn’t just cost us that game, but our season.

He is a great receiver, no doubt about that, but I question if he is ever going to be a clutch number 1 receiver.   We all agree that we need a big “go up and get it” receiver.  So if we get that receiver, someone has to go.

I think we should consider trading Stevie Johnson this off season.  Robert Woods is precise in route running and has good chemistry with EJ, and Goodwin and Graham are fast on the outside and can also move inside when needed.   I think Stevie is odd man out and gives us the most return for our buck, plus maybe he is to used to losing in Buffalo.  What do you think we could get for Johnson?  A 2nd rounder or maybe someone like Bowe in KC?

Paddy, Vancouver Canada

CB: I think Johnson is the type of receiver whose return in a trade would be limited. The reason why is he is a possession receiver. He’s a move-the-chains player not a stretch the field, deliver a game-changing play every week type wideout. Johnson is a very unique player with a unique skill set, but he is not going to blow the doors off a defense. All that being said I think at best he’d get you a fourth-round draft choice. Frankly, it might be even less because his contract may not fit the role another team might envision for him, so to take on that salary would likely lead to a team offering less in return like a fifth or sixth-round pick.

3 – Hey Chris,

My question is regarding the offensive line.  How do you see the Bills helping the line in the off season? I know they have to see how guys like JJ ‘Unga pan out over the last 3 games, but if they do go after a guy in the draft, do you see them going after a guy who can be versatile? Are there typically guys who can play guard and tackle?  I would imagine that’s what coaches look for in any player on the field.  Do you think free agency is possible?  Also, do you think Chris Hairston will be able to return to form?
Thanks, Jillian

CB: I would not be surprised if there are wholesale changes made on the offensive line. As I see it the only players who have job security are Cordy Glenn and Eric Wood. Kraig Urbik rebounded real well this past week after a down week in Tampa, but I think he will be pushed for his starting job this offseason and into training camp based on what we saw the past couple of weeks with J.J. ‘Unga. Beyond those three I expect to see change there. I think the organization will look to the draft and free agency to address the offensive line.

 

4 – Chris,
Thanks for the great reporting, week by week for the Bills. Yourself and John Murphy do a great job but My question is based of everything about this youth movement and getting these unknown guys more playing time. I been listening and reading about the guys y’all are naming but I keep seeing this guy left out…. Duke Williams? Why is he not getting involved in the discussions and not getting more reps? What part of his game is lacking that has him buried on the depth chart? Because before the season he was getting hyped up as a utility guy in the secondary, that could play multiple positions. What happened? Please explain that to me.

Brian in South Carolina

CB: Thanks for the kind words. I’ll be sure to pass them along to Murph. Duke Williams is a player that has been seeing time mainly on special teams. The reason he has not seen time at safety is because there is quality and experienced talent in front of him in Jairus Byrd, Aaron Williams, Da’Norris Searcy and Jim Leonhard. I do think heading into next season Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks could challenge for bigger roles and what happens with Byrd and Leonhard this offseason with both being free agents will have an impact on that as well.

 

5 – Chris,

I have been surprised at the lack of two back sets the Bills are utilizing this year. I would think this would confuse defenses as Fred is a highly capable pass-blocking back and we all know about CJ’s home run ability with every touch. Would these formations not mix things up and keep opposing defenses off balance… not knowing to expect run or pass?

Also, I am concerned (as are many fans) about the utilization of CJ Spiller. Not in terms of number of plays per game, or on the year, but the play calls he is being used in. They seem to heavily favor running him behind the left or right guards. Why not more screen plays? I think all of us get excited when CJ Spiller has the ball with 3-4 blockers in front of him with the ability to pick and choose which lanes he wants to take.

Thanks!
Jim from Massachusetts

CB: We saw some split backfield in training camp, but there has been very little of it during the season. I do think there is an element of predicitability there when they have only Fred or C.J. on the field in a single back set. Heading into last week’s Jacksonville game I know that Spiller had not been on the field for more than 40 percent of the snaps since Week 2.

However, when he is on the field he got the ball 60 percent of the time. While the usage is admirable I fear that it makes Buffalo’s offense predictable when Spiller is in the backfield.

Jackson is usually on the field in third down situations because they trust him with blitz pickup and blocking assignments.

I don’t know a one-thousandth of what Nathaniel Hackett knows about football, but I do think a split backfield with C.J. and Fred in the offensive backfield on third down could create a lot of headaches for opposing defenses. That’s where I think it could be most useful for Buffalo’s offense.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Urbik’s solid play keeps ‘Unga on bench

Posted by Chris Brown on December 15, 2013 – 9:45 pm

The plan all along was to get rookie G J.J. ‘Unga more snaps in Sunday’s game against Jacksonville. With Kraig Urbik a game time decision with a foot injury it even raised the possibility that ‘Unga would make his first NFL start. Neither of those scenarios developed as Urbik turned in one of his better performances and went wire to wire in the win over the Jaguars.

“I think because we made the decision that Urbik went in there and started playing well and he was playing at a higher level than he had played before,” said head coach Doug Marrone in explaining why ‘Unga did not see any playing time on offense. “(Urbik) did some good things so Pat (Morris) came to me and asked, ‘What do you think?’ I said, ‘The way Kraig is playing right now and as healthy as he is we’re sticking with him because we’re trying to win a game.’”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Kiko, Urbik to play

Posted by Chris Brown on December 15, 2013 – 11:41 am

Kiko Alonso, who was questionable for today’s game is active for the game and will play. RG Kraig Urbik, who was also questionable will play as well.

With no indication on lineup changes it’s assumed they will both start. Here are the rest of the Bills inactives.

QB Jeff Tuel
DB Jonathan Meeks
RB Ronnie Wingo
DB Brandon Smith
OG Mark Asper
OG Antoine McClain
TE Tony Moeaki


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Urbik participating

Posted by Chris Brown on December 13, 2013 – 11:06 am

Bills RG Kraig Urbik, has not been able to practice this week until today.

Urbik is participating in practice here on Friday. We’ll have his official level of participation post practice, but coach Marrone has said that he’s expected to be a game time decision.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Kiko limited, but expected to play

Posted by Chris Brown on December 12, 2013 – 1:32 pm

Bills MLB Kiko Alonso (knee) was limited in practice for a second straight day, but head coach Doug Marrone is not concerned about having Alonso available for Sunday’s game.

“Kiko was limited, but that was more on us, just bringing him along,” said Marrone. “He wanted to do everything, but we held him back. Unless something happens between now and (Sunday) he’ll play. I think we’ll have to list him as probable.”

Starting RG Kraig Urbik did not practice with a foot injury for a second straight day. Marrone has already said he’ll be a game time decision. Also not practicing was CB Brandon Smith, who suffered an ankle injury in Wednesday’s practice.


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Urbik a likely game time decision

Posted by Chris Brown on December 11, 2013 – 1:23 pm

Bills starting RG Kraig Urbik did not practice Wednesday ad is iffy for Sunday’s game.

“Did not participate in practice. I think he’s going to be a game time decision,” said Marrone. “He has a foot injury. It was sore after the game. We thought it would get better, but it didn’t.”

Marrone confirmed that if Urbik can’t play that J.J. ‘Unga will start in his place at right guard.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills not sleeping on poor Falcons record

Posted by Chris Brown on November 27, 2013 – 12:41 pm

The Atlanta Falcons have lost eight of their last nine games including the last five in a row. They currently sit at 2-9 on the season and were the first NFC team eliminated from playoff contention. The Bills however, aren’t thinking they can just show up and win on Sunday.

“We know we’re going to get their best,” said Kraig Urbik. “They’re going to come out firing and they’re a good defense too. You look at the guys up front that they have and they have a really good talented defense so yeah their record might not be where they want it to be, but they’re going to come out firing when they come out to play us.”

“We have to approach like this team was in the NFC championship last year and they were in the game,” said Scott Chandler. “It was a good game, so they’re a very talented football team and we’ve got to approach it as they’re a good team.”

“If you look at their offense especially, because that’s what I can speak to, they’ve done  a lot of great things,” said Arthur Moats. “With Matt Ryan out there, he’s still making plays, even with them losing Julio and everything like that, Roddy, he’s still out there, you have to always account for him.  And their running game, between Steven Jackson and Jacquizz, that’s a really good one-two punch.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-4

Posted by Chris Brown on October 4, 2013 – 1:13 pm

Fresh off the Thursday night game here are your latest questions. Keep them coming on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Hey Chris,

I really like what I’ve been seeing from the Bills lately. It’s starting to look like a great team. Can we expect Mario to play like he did against Carolina more often and when Byrd and Gilmore return how much better do you expect them to be? Lastly, I want to ask what is your biggest concern with this team going forward?

PS – I love what EJ has done but do you think he’s getting a bit overhyped it’s only been a few games, but man does it seem like this kid can keep his cool under pressure.

CB: I think Mario’s success is going to depend on the players around him up front. Provided they make plays when he draws the most attention from the opposing offensive line, it will force future opponents to pick their poison so to speak. Baltimore chose to double Kyle Williams and Mario most often in the game. As a result, Marcell Dareus saw a lot of one-on-one matchups and won more than his fair share with six tackles and a pair of sacks. As long as the guy that’s getting the one-on-one matchups is winning, the attention paid to the defensive linemen will vacillate back and forth sometimes week to week. We saw Mario get some opportunities last night even though he saw his fair share of double teams.

When Gilmore and Byrd are back in the lineup it’ll no doubt be a boost. The extent of Byrd’s role when he does return however, is up for debate. I expect him to be eased in playing in subpackages at first. Eventually he may be worked back in as a starter. Remember he hasn’t played an NFL regular season game in nine months, had no training camp and no preseason, and has only practiced Mike Pettine’s defense for a month.

As for a concern with the team, it’s the evolution of the offense. It’s going to be a process, but I think it has to be one that makes progress each week. Among the hurdles to be cleared are third down and red zone, two of the most important requirements to be a top offense in the league.

EJ has had his ups and downs, but overall he is making good progress. I think most people agree it’s a matter of when not if with Manuel.

 

2 – Chris,

Thank you for covering all the great news coming out of Buffalo. My question is in regards to the LG position. Colin Brown is certainly looking like he has had his share of problems in the first two games going against some pretty good and big DT’s in Star Lotulelei and Vince Wilfork. He also had trouble with Mizzou sensation and Rookie DT Sheldon Richardson. I have been wondering what his status is on the team? I have heard Coach say he is happy with who he has on the o-line so I doubt a change will be made. From watching the games and being there at One Bills Drive can you tell anything about Colin Brown and why he is having a hard time? Is it the competition he is going against or rooted in fundamentals and overall talent? For a man his size (6’7 325lbs) he has been a problem so far this year. Running to the left side for some nice gains would be welcoming.

Thanks
Taylor – Greater St. Louis Area

CB: I think without question the Baltimore game was his best performance. In a more traditional offensive approach when they ask the offensive line to line up and smack and defensive front in the mouth, that’s what he does best. I think we do have to take into account the caliber of talent he’s been going against early this season. Wilfork – a perennial Pro Bowl player, Lotulelei – a top 10 pick, Richardson – another 1st round pick, Ngata – a perennial Pro Bowl player.

We have to remember he’s the new addition to the offensive line, so I thought before passing judgment it would be fair to give him the first month of the season to settle in. Let’s see where he takes his game from here.

 

3 – Hi Chris,

One of the few plays the Bills have run consistently the past couple years has been screens.  It seems getting Mr. Spiller, Mr. Jackson and a few others some breathing space was highly effective.  Unless I missed something grabbing a snack, I don’t recall the Bills running any screens these first two games.  For an offensive staff that insists it adjusts to the player’s strengths, why does it appear they have abandoned screens?

Thanks,
Matt from Saratoga

CB: I think part of the reason screens haven’t been used as much is because they are trying to play to the players’ strengths, meaning the offensive line. The loss of Andy Levitre limited their athleticism on the offensive line. Eric Wood and Kraig Urbik are capable of getting out on screens, but I don’t know if that’s enough to convince the offensive staff that it could be a frequent weapon for them.

Now we did see a couple of screens last night that provided some measure of success so perhaps we’ll see more moving forward.

We have to remember that Nathaniel Hackett and Doug Marrone are still feeling out the roster and finding what plays work best with their personnel in their system. The coaches have to learn what works best as much as the players have to learn what they’re being asked to execute.

Next year at this time there won’t be those questions.

 

4 – Hey Chris
Wondering if you could give us a projected return date (or game) for the list of inured players? I think we’re getting close to when Gilmore might return, right? How about Goodwin? Brooks? Byrd has no timetable, right?

Stephon Gilmore
Ron Brooks
Marquise Goodwin
Dustin Hopkins

We sure would be a lot better off with all of those guys on the field!
Thanks
Greg

CB: Here’s an idea as to where they’re at.

Stephon Gilmore – Cincinnati is the earliest possible return, but I think it might be a week after that.
Ron Brooks – He’s closer. He’s doing straight line running now, but not cutting yet.
Marquise Goodwin – Think he has a chance this coming week. Began catching passes this past week
Dustin Hopkins – Real close, good chance to be ready for Cincy game.

5 – Chris,

We should really look at getting him, if possible, to have another good QB on our roster no?

Scott Young

CB: Doug Marrone has maintained that promoting through the practice squad is the course they usually take. Thad Lewis knows the offense and is on the practice squad. Of course Doug Whaley has said if they ever have a chance to upgrade the roster they will look to do it.

That being said Josh Freeman is a player that has some off the field concerns that need to be investigated. If those check out and he’s not looking for giant money, which is possible, then I’ve got no problem with the Bills kicking the tires on him.

 

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Kyle, Urbik back practicing

Posted by Chris Brown on September 26, 2013 – 11:51 am

Buffalo got a starting offensive lineman and defensive lineman back on the practice field Thursday.

Kyle Williams (Achilles) and Kraig Urbik (knee) both sat out Wednesday’s practice, but we’re back working Thursday. Both are expected to play Sunday against the Ravens.

We’ll get the official measure of their participation post practice.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Urbik: We knew EJ could do it

Posted by Chris Brown on September 15, 2013 – 11:14 pm

The Bills have had faith in EJ Manuel’s abilities from the get go despite no hard evidence at the NFL level in the regular season. Those abilities were on display on Buffalo’s final drive, but his teammates all along expected him to come through.

“We had all the confidence in the world, with all the players we had on the field,” said Kraig Urbik. “We knew EJ could do it.  We do that all the time in practice even in preseason, we have two minute drives all the time.  I don’t know what it is about the tempo or whatever but we just seem to do well in two minute and it showed again (Sunday).”

When asked what Manuel was like in the huddle Urbik didn’t sound like he was describing a rookie.

“He’s cool and calm, confident in what he’s doing,” said Urbik. “He’s a leader. He gets in the huddle and gets us going. He’s been good out there.”


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Urbik: EJ doesn’t look like a rookie

Posted by Chris Brown on July 29, 2013 – 7:42 am

Bills G Kraig Urbik was asked about being in the huddle with both Kevin Kolb and EJ Manuel. Naturally Urbik said Kolb is just a confident veteran that you can tell knows his stuff. Here’s what he said about the rookie signal caller.

“I don’t see a rookie when I’m in the huddle with him,” said Urbik appearing on the Howard Simon show on the Bills Radio Network. “I just see his ability as a quarterback. He doesn’t strike me as a guy with a doe in the headlights. All you see is his ability out there on the field.”

The Bills next practice is Monday at 2 pm.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Intense cardio work all serving a purpose

Posted by Chris Brown on May 9, 2013 – 9:46 am

The demanding cardio work that is a big part of Buffalo’s offseason conditioning program has had Bills players throwing up at times during workouts. But they know in the long run all the work to build their stamina and endurance now will pay off come the fall.

“It’s a lot of conditioning along with the speed stuff and the high tempo in the weight room, there’s no down time, it’s always going,” said Brad Smith. “It just gets the most out of you. The workouts are pretty tough.”

For offensive linemen like Kraig Urbik, who was asked to play heavier under the previous regime at around 330 pounds, the demands have shifted to lighter and faster.

“I’m actually dropping a lot of weight. I’m down 10 pounds,” Urbik told Buffalobills.com. “I’m going to keep doing it from my body standpoint. Running a high tempo offense I’m going to need to be in this kind of shape.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-4

Posted by Chris Brown on January 4, 2013 – 3:03 pm

It’s been a heck of a week here at One Bills Drive, with more big news to come once the Bills find their new head coach. Stay tuned to Buffalobills.com all offseason for updates. Also keep sending your questions to AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,
What do you think of the idea of drafting two of the best QBs available in this year’s draft?  Last year the Redskins did and I think it’s working for them, don’t you?  What do we have to lose?  It’s quite evident we’re lacking in even (1) good QB on this team, right? As long as we have the right people making the calls on the draft, this could work. If we land one good QB, the best man would win out in training camp and then we have out second stringer in place.

Thanks,
LRT

CB: I thought it interesting that GM Buddy Nix this week reiterated how they intend to draft a quarterback and then added in that they might acquire another in free agency. Last year I think the opportunity to draft two quarterbacks was more realistic. The pool was much deeper. This year the pool of talent at QB is much thinner by all indications. So I think making use of two draft picks on quarterbacks might not provide the desired results this time around.
2 - Hi Chris,

I appreciate all the work you and your colleagues do to bring us inside Bills videos, statistics, and interviews that provide some insight into OBD.

What’s my hope as Joe Ticket Buyer for next season?  We’re going to have the AFC North and NFC South on the schedule, which are both very difficult divisions. What will be different? Can you give me any hope as a 29-year old that hasn’t seen his team in the playoffs since he was a sophomore in high school?

Finally, would you agree that finding a young quarterback to groom (or play) has to be priority #1 in the offseason?  Sure, more linebackers and a wide receiver would be nice, but without a quarterback that can make all of the throws in the NFL accurately and often, aren’t we still just spinning our wheels?

Thanks again, and please keep up the great work.
Sincerely,
Jeff Locke

CB: First, thanks for the compliments. Our staff appreciates it. With a new head coach coming in with a new staff and undoubtedly new ideas for the roster I think it’s safe to say a lot will be different for the 2013 Bills. No question those divisions on Buffalo’s slate won’t be easy, but let’s see what unfolds this offseason as far as the Bills are concerned before we make our assessments.

I agree quarterback is a big issue for this team. As I mentioned in the above response it is a position that the personnel department plans to address this offseason.
3 - Hey Chris,
After Urbik re-signed, do think that helps the chances of Levitre re-signing?  He has been our most durable lineman and I would view him to be our top priority?  Also what do think the chances are that the franchise tag is put on Byrd? I believe the tag amount on safeties is just above kicker and punter?  Also, since D Jones and Nelson were undrafted can’t the bills give them 1st or 2nd rd tender offers as opposed to the low qualifying tender offers? (2nd making the most sense)  Also what do think about a trade to the Jets? Brad Smith for Tebow and a draft pick?

Bryan
Grosse Ile, MI

CB: I don’t believe that one re-signing necessarily impacts another. The re-signing of Urbik is certainly good news for the Bills. Re-signing Levitre figures to be a bit more complicated. Levitre has been the most durable lineman on the roster having never missed a game in four years and is a heck of an interior lineman. I believe negotiations once they begin will take some time. Levitre has stated an interest in returning.

As for Byrd I get the sense in my conversations with him that he wants to test the free agent market. I worry that the Bills may have to make use of the franchise tag to keep him. The projected tag amount for safeties in 2013 is $6.4M.

Yes, you’re right with both Jones and Nelson undrafted there is not compensation due the Bills should they be tendered at the low level by Buffalo and another club signs them to an offer sheet and the Bills choose not to match. It’s likely that one, possibly both will be tendered at a middle tender, which would offer compensation to the Bills in the form of a second-round pick. I’d expect the new head coach would have a good deal of input on that.

Finally, no on your trade suggestion.
4 - Chris,

Thanks for your time and great work covering the Bills.  Question is about the defense in light of the coaching change and it not being a setback.  I agree, only if they stay in the 4-3.  If it were a switch to the 3-4 then an overhaul of personal will be a setback.  I don’t want to hear Mario as a OLB.  He likes putting his hand down, rushing the blocker.  So head coach that does whatever with our offense weapons and defense that stays a 4-3 and we can still compete for the playoffs next year.  Do you agree?   Switch to the 3-4 a setback?  

Bills fan in Raleigh,
Jason

CB: I think it’s safe to say that moving to a 3-4 defensively would be a major challenge moving forward if the defense is to improve on their substandard rankings this past year. The new defensive scheme can’t be a major change schematically. If it is a whole new learning curve will ensue and that will keep the players vets and young players alike from playing fast. I’d imagine the coach search committee is making it clear the 4-3 is something they’d prefer to keep intact.
5 – Chris,
I’m not interested in recycling a recently-fired head coach as Bills’ head man, but I am interested in putting pieces in place that can help the franchise.  Many fired head coaches return to action as a coordinator (Del Rio in Denver, for example).  Guys that don’t have a job right now are prime candidates for those jobs. 
 
I like the idea of getting a young, innovative head coach (Doug Marrone, Mike McCoy, etc.) but surround him with experienced coordinators.  My selections would be Ken Whisenhunt as OC and Lovie Smith – he says he wants to come to Buffalo! – as my DC.  Above all, we need a guy at the top who can evaluate and develop a young QB.  (The knock on Whisenhunt is that he failed to develop Kolb, Skelton, Lindley (?) in AZ.)
 
What do you think about that? 
 
Interesting comment on WGR yesterday about looking at Special Teams coaches (Harbaugh, Levy) as Head Coaches because they use the entire roster in putting teams together, thus they have a knack for working with – and getting the most out of – the entire roster. 
 
Intriguing thought, but I think it still comes down to getting the guy with the “right stuff”.  Can he manage the game day decisions, delegate the game plan development to his coordinators, motivate the team to play, get the most out of his talent?  Then sign him up!
 
Your thoughts?
Thanks for your time.  Let’s hope the Bills get it right this time.
Ron

CB: The Bills have made it clear that they’re not discriminating and exploring all options. I think the candidate pool which reportedly varies from Doug Marrone to Lovie Smith reflects that. As for your proposed HC, OC, DC combination that trio would cost upwards of $15M a year just for those three. Don’t know that it’s realistic.

That being said I do agree with your coaching point on developing a young QB knowing Buddy Nix intends to draft a signal caller. I also agree with a head coach being a head coach on Sundays and delegating all play calling to the coordinators. I’m a big fan of that approach. We’ll see what happens.
 

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Levitre on wanting to be back

Posted by Chris Brown on December 31, 2012 – 10:20 pm

The Bills have some free agent decisions to make this offseason. One of the bigger ones is unrestricted free agent Andy Levitre. Buffalo’s starting left guard was asked on a scale of 1 to 10 how much he’d like to re-sign with Buffalo.

“It’d be a 10,” said Levitre. “There’s great people, great coaching staff and players. I think we’ve gotten a lot more competitive since I first got here and I know the culture is set in place. I know we haven’t been doing well the past couple of years, but I think if we continue to grow the way we have been we’ll be in the playoffs next year.”

Buffalo has already re-signed Kraig Urbik to a multi-year extension. Fellow guard Chad Rinehart is also set to become an unrestricted free agent.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Tuesday John Murphy Show

Posted by johnmurphyshow on December 18, 2012 – 6:17 pm

It’s the big news of the day at One Bills Drive, the multi-year contract extension signed by guard Kraig Urbik.   It’s a great story.  Urbik was claimed off waivers by the Bills in September, 2010, after washing out as a third round draft pick in Pittsburgh.  We’ll talk with Urbik tonight on The John Murphy Show tonight.  He joins us at 7:20pm to address the slow start to his NFL career, and moving forward with what he believes are a core group of players on the Bills offense.

At 8pm tonight, Hall of Fame RB Thurman Thomas joins us for his usual Tuesday night appearance.  C.J. Spiller continues to climb up the Bills rushing charts, and we’ll check in with Thurman for his take on Spiller and the loss in Toronto two days ago.

There’s a new book about the NFL called “Coaching Confidential-Inside the Fraternity of NFL Coaches.”  Longtime Pro Football writer Gary Myers of the NY Daily News is the author, and he’ll join us live at 8:20 tonight to talk about the book, and the circus that is the New York Jets.

As always, we’ll cover the news of the day from One Bills Drive, and we’ll make time for phone calls from fans.

The John Murphy Show airs weeknights from 7pm-9pm on the flagship station of the Bills, WGR Sports Radio 550.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Teammates congratulate Urbik

Posted by Chris Brown on December 18, 2012 – 12:26 pm

Bills teammates were taking to Twitter to congratulate guard Kraig Urbik after he re-signed with the club.

Center Eric Wood was the latest to do so.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Report: Urbik agrees to multi-year extension

Posted by Chris Brown on December 18, 2012 – 7:40 am

ESPN AFC East reporter James Walker is reporting that Bills starting right guard Kraig Urbik won’t become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

ESPN is reporting that Urbik has agreed to a four-year $15M extension with the Bills.  A two-year starter, Urbik is one of three notable linemen on Buffalo’s offensive line that was in a contract year this season.

The other two are Andy Levitre and Chad Rinehart. Rinehart is currently on injured reserve. Levitre, who has never missed a game in his four-year career and has garnered Pro Bowl consideration, figures to take a bit more time to negotiate.

Rinehart and Urbik both signed one-year tender offers as restricted free agents last offseason.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Lineup for O-line to stay the same

Posted by Chris Brown on December 12, 2012 – 2:32 pm

Last week Buffalo had rookie David Snow at center and Sam Young at right tackle as the two new additions to the offensive line. This week head coach Chan Gailey plans to keep the lineup the same as last week up front.

“Yes, we’ll keep that the same and try to keep the same continuity,” said Gailey.

Kraig Urbik, who lined up in between them at right guard last week, believes now with a game under their belt things will go a bit smoother.

“Sam has been in the system for a while and he knows the calls and everything so it wasn’t too much of a problem with him,” said Urbik. “Snow it was his first playing time and everything. Communication wasn’t bad it was just technique stuff. It was just getting used to if Eric (Wood) is in there I know on a certain play that he’s going to be right there with me. It was the uncertainty of whether he was going to be there or not and for the most part he was so it was kind of one of those things where you have to feel it out. I think more practice time is going to help.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

O-line calls to be handled by vets

Posted by Chris Brown on December 8, 2012 – 10:26 am

Bills head coach Chan Gailey chose not to reveal the lineup for his offensive line Sunday. It’s left the question out there as to whether it will be Kraig Urbik at center or rookie David Snow. Whoever is not at center will be at right guard. Even if Snow is at center against the Rams Sunday, don’t expect him to be making the line calls. That will be handled by two veterans up front for the Bills.

Head coach Chan Gailey answered in the affirmative in his weekly conversation with Buffalobills.com when asked if Andy Levitre and Kraig Urbik will be handling a lot of the pre-snap calls on the line no matter where Urbik lines up.

“Oh yes,” said Gailey. “A lot of times when you have two new guys playing next to each other that’s not the easiest thing in the world either. You really have to communicate all the way out. The good thing about Sam (Young) is he’s played, he’s been a pro so I think he’ll be able to communicate back in whatever is necessary to communicate back in.”

Urbik also gave indication that he and Levitre would be handling the line calls before the snap.

“Whether I’m at guard or center I’m going to be help (David) Snow and Sam (Young),” said Urbik. “We’re going here, or we’re going here, that way there is no guesswork and no thinking. We’re just going. I think Andy (Levitre) and I are going to be doing most of the communicating no matter what.”

“The communication is one of the biggest factors, but we’ve been working with those guys,” said Gailey of Snow and Young. “We’ve had communication with them for quite a while, almost the whole season now. The speed of the game is what they’ve have to adjust to. The other three guys are used to the speed of the game, they’re not. It’s going to be a challenge for them to adjust to the speed of the game. And this is a tough defensive front to make that adjustment against.

“This is probably the biggest challenge we’ve had all year. With the quality of players they have on their front, they play so hard and so fast. They’re quick and strong. They’re as good a defensive line as we have faced all season. We have our work cut out for us with two new guys on our offensive line. It’s a challenge for our football team.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills